Subject 3: Mixed Media Impressionism

“Daydream” 23 x 18.5 cm.  2020

Coloured pencils and oil pastels lend themselves to out-of-focus subject matter.   Together you can use them for bold or very subtle mark-making.  Indeed, you can make entirely blurry (or soft focus) drawings.  To see a step-by-step look at how I drew “Daydream” (above) please read this post.

"Composition II"
“Composition II”29 x 31 cm, 2012

A soft-focus drawing becomes an abstract composition.  One can concentrate on composition; balance, colours and shapes without being bogged down by detail.  There is a lot of room for interpretation in this sort of drawing as the less detail there is in a source photo, the more opportunity there is to use one’s imagination.  There are no hard and fast lines to follow and no absolute borders.  You could say it is a kind of impressionism, made with coloured pencils mixed with oil pastels.

Below are some recent soft-focus or “mixed media impressionism” drawings.   Because these drawings have elements of abstraction and realism, I call the style Abstract Realism.


"Alone in the Upper Marais" 2016
“Alone in the Upper Marais”

Soft-focus drawings from 2017…

"Good Morning Paris" January 2017
“Good Morning Paris”
January 2017
"Just a Moment" January 2017
“Just a Moment”
January 2017
“The Elegant 4th”
April 2017
“Irresistible Blanche”
October 2017
“Night Moves”  April 2018

In some drawings most of the area is treated in an impressionist way with just the closest subject in sharp focus.  I like the contrast of these two states.

Tall Poppy
December 2017
“City Slicker”
November 2017
(Jaures, Paris)

Drawings from 2018…

Day Trip to Giverny
Walking with Claude

Oil pastels and coloured pencils make up my mixed media…but this kind of very soft-focus may also be created with coloured pencils by themselves, as in “Overcast”.

Coloured pencils.
June 2018
Urbane Saint Germain
coloured pencils, July 2018
“Boulevard” August 2018

In 2019

“Summer Rain 1” coloured pencils, 25 x 19 cm. July 2019
Summer Rain 2, September 2019
“Winter Rain” coloured pencils, 24 x 20 cm. October 2019
“Another Time”  Neocolor II and Luminance.  25 x 31 cm.  September 2020
“An Autumn Feast” Neocolor and Luminance 25.5 x 28 cm

In 2021

“Iridescent Morning” 25.5 x 28.5 cm. September 2021
“Last Night I Dreamed of Kyoto” 28 x 20 cm. October 2021
“Melting Memory” 30 x 20 cm. October 2021


“New View” 28 x 32 cm. March 2022
“Our Place” 26 x 30.6 cm. March 2022
Celestial Forest 26 x 26 cm. July 2022
“Transcendence” 28 x 41 cm. September 2022

To get an idea of some of my techniques I do a lot of explaining on the posts Brush and Pencil and Perfect Partners: Neocolor and Luminance

See “My Art Materials” page for more information.

Have a look at my complete collection of paintings and drawings (over 550 of them created over more than 40 years) on my comprehensive website

A note on how I get my out-of-focus source photo –

I can’t make an impressionistic drawing by working from a sharp photographic image. So how do I make a soft focus photo? When I take photos my digital SLR camera is set on aperture-priority auto. I set the aperture t f/3.5 (‘f’ meaning focal ratio, f-ratio or f-stop) in order to give me a short focal range. For example, at f/3.5 if I focus on an individual bird in a landscape he will be sharp but everything in front and behind him will be fuzzy. But if my aperture is set at a long focal range of f/16 the bird and the rest of the scene will be sharp. I seldom work with a long focal range because I don’t usually want everything sharp.

12 thoughts on “Subject 3: Mixed Media Impressionism

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Ha – thanks – your comment about my failure made me smile. The maiko, Kotomi, was compelling though my drawing didn’t do her justice. However I drew her five other times and all the other ones worked out. What a pity she quit being a maiko as she was quite spectacular.

  1. tamberrinoartstudio

    I love your work, and appreciate the tips. I love working in CP, too, but right now I’m mostly playing with my watercolors. I would love to try some mixed media pieces! I discovered your blog through the CP site on FB! 🙂

  2. Janet

    I found your work in an old Australian Artist magazine and checked out your site. I did enjoy the combined oil pastel and pencil instructions and will be having a go shortly. I belong to a community based art group in West Auckland, N.Z. and if I can get the hang of it we just might have a little session on it. Most are keen to have a go at something new and get out of their comfort zone. I am from Perth, live in N.Z. and when I get back I will pop in to your gallery. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and skill of a lifetime.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Hi Janet, how lovely to meet you! When do you think you’ll be visiting Perth again? Because I’d love to meet up for coffee. I live in South Fremantle. I would be very happy to show you my studio. I doubt I will have any work in a gallery until September when the next solo show “Remember Paris” will be up – from 7th to 23rd. I’ll be in NZ next month but only in the South Island. Thanks so much for getting in touch. If your group does try this oil pastel + pencil and you have questions, please ask. All the best!!

  3. LouAnn

    Wow! I absolutely love your technique and approach towards the dreaded “background”. I want to try this to get over my “failures” with it. You’re so talented and unique. I’d love to take an on-line course from you!


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